Gino Montoya is a name most police officers know well. In fact, South Salt Lake police officer Matt Jewkes, on the job only seven months, recognized him immediately.
But Montoya's neighors on a rundown stretch of south Jeremy Street said they know very little about the man arrested Friday for holding 14 people hostage in a fast-food restaurant after wrestling a gun away from Jewkes and fleeing."I have nothing to do with those people," said a man who lives a few houses from the unkempt brick dwelling where neighbors said Montoya stays.
"Last time I saw that guy was on the news just now," said the man, who offered that the neighborhood in recent years has slipped into deep decline and that gang activity is prevalant.
But in law enforcement circles and among gangsters, Montoya's name summons instant recognition.
"VLT (the name of his gang) was fairly quiet when he was in prison," said one detective. "As soon as he got out we started noticing more activity, started seeing more graffiti." "
Montoya got out of prison last year after serving almost his entire zero- to five-year sentence on a third-degree robbery charge. According to his first cousin, Jesse James Montoya, Gino Montoya was really trying to turn his life around.
Constant threats from rival gang members may have gotten him into trouble, Jesse Montoya said.
"After Rocky died (Gino's younger brother) and Worm (another cousin) got killed, people was shooting at us and our families all the time," Jesse Montoya told the Deseret News in an interview from the Utah State Prision. "It (the violence) changes people."
Rocky Alphie Montoya was holding a handgun when it discharged, hitting him in the head and killing him. Worm is the street name of Jeremy Gaitin, a Montoya cousin who was stabbed to death at a party early last year.
"What people don't understand is what's going on with our family," he said. "Seeing our mothers crying and all. No matter what . . . I felt what I did was justice."
Jesse Montoya is serving two consecutive zero-to-five-year sentences for shooting Melvin Garcia four times. Jesse Montoya believed Garcia was one of the men responsible for stabbing Gaitin. Dominique Vigil, 17, is charged with killing Gaitin and ironically was scheduled to appear in court Friday morning, but the hearing was postponed.
"When I was out there, (Gino) wasn't doing nothing wrong," he said. "My cousin, Gino, is a good kid. He's not really a violent guy. He was always the pussy of the family."
"We'll be waiting for him to come up here (prison)," Jesse Montoya said.
And prison may be where Gino Montoya is headed once again. He's booked on 14 counts of aggravated kidnapping and could face more charges stemming from the fight he had with Jewkes.
He also still has to face the charges that led to the aborted arrest Friday in the parking lot of Ritz Bowling. He was to appear in court last November after allegedly shoving a gun against the head of man and taking his car.
Montoya never showed up for court, leading the judge to issue a warrant for his arrest.